Friday, April 16, 2010

R.I.P. Goth/Metal hero Peter Steele

It is always devastating to hear of someone dying too young and now even more tragic that the world has lost Peter Steele. His morbid sense of humor is the side of Peter's voice that I hear despite my sadness of his death.

The first time I saw him in Type O Negative was at The Channel in Boston, about 1989 or so. The big finale involved a chainsaw and he had a thick gauge chain for his bass strap. There was no other frontman that could match his baritone vocals, his lyrical genius, his Cro-Magnon physical traits, and who could also possess the sensitivity and love for women. I finally met him before their show at the Berkeley Square in 1994 when I was asked to interview him. I asked him when his birthday was and first he said January 4, 1462, and then corrected it to 1962. I found that he spoke very self-depracatingly about himself and his music, which I found to be completely hysterical. I played into it; kept a straight face throughout which seemed to be even funnier to the band when they watched the interview later. His tough front could have him be mistakable as an angry thug, but really deep down he was well-read, very intelligent, and wise. He is way too young to go and he had a lot left to offer the world. He is very sadly missed by his fans, including myself.

I often felt that Peter Steele, and Type O Negative as a whole, was misunderstood and sometimes seen as sending a bad message to the youthful fans. It was the bands' honest feelings being expressed of what people felt; it was their right to write about it; express it without censoring themselves. You didn't have to agree with their lyrics to like their music. If anyone brought their controversial lyrics to light, it only made more publicity for them. Peter explains in this interview: "Well, we were kinda singled out for all the wrong reasons. I’ve got a big mouth and am politically incorrect and I’m very proud of it. Just the word politically correct irritates me because I don’t want to be told by anyone or any entity like the media what I should believe or what is right or what is wrong, y’know. My opinions are not based upon hearsay, my opinions are based upon life experience and so when we were accused of being fascists and communists and Satanists it kind of did us a huge favor because it generated so much press and it increased record sales."

There are posts on the 'Net like this one that describes what it is like to be around him.

I rarely met fans of Type O Negative on the west coast and then they increased abundantly with the release of the album Bloody Kisses. One of the ways I met a fan, whom soon became my friend, was by spotting him wearing a Type O Negative shirt while I was visiting New Orleans. I did not hesitate to approach him to ask if he had been to one of their shows; he had seen them in Lafayette, Louisiana, and loved it. This friend is Allen Jaeger, an infamous poster artist for hundreds of shows and his work helps promote shows in the New Orleans area. Jaeger later met the band on their way through New Orleans and this is a poster he created for their New Orleans show in 1996 and in 2000. Allen is one of the first Type O Negative fans I met who "got" what they were about and didn't question it.

If you are also a fan, feel free to comment about Peter Steele's death below this post.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Naturally, I had to check it was 1991 when we saw them at the Channel that first time. What I remember is before the show both of us being like "who's that tall, weird looking guy?" Then there was that total sitcom moment - we were sitting on the drink rail that separated the street level from the pit, Type O came on, started playing, and Peter started to sing - both our mouths dropped open and we turned to look at each other. From that moment we were hooked.

Although I'd tired of their more recent music (though I did like Life is Killing Me), the band and Peter in particular remained fascinating and always good for a laugh. If you were of an oddball to get the joke.